Wednesday, December 05, 2007

discernment online

The lectionary reading for today comes from Matthew 11 and John’s disciples are seeking to discern if Jesus is the One. Jesus reply is to point them to what they see – lives healed. I wonder what this notion of seeing means for us in an on-line age.

In other words, if Jesus was a blogger, how would he respond to John’s disciples. Would he put up blog posts of lives healed? Or is Jesus demanded a deeper level of seeing?

Over the last few months I have spent a fair bit of time in the comments responding to people who, like John’s disicples, are seeking to discern- is body massage prayer a twisting of Bible to suit, is use of U2 in church OK (discussion still bubbling along!), is throwing plates at cross evidence that I/Opawa has been deceived. All of these are about discernment.

Which has me wondering how we discern online and what I might learn from Jesus invitation to see.

Here on this blog, I (always in a rush) pen a few words. They are a form of “seeing” yet invariable are a short phrase that in it’s brevity strips out context and relationship and enviroment. Are my blog words enough to allow discernment? If not, am I being irresponsible by only posting in brevity and should I only post if I have time to blog something more fully? But how much can you truly “see” something online anyway? Did Jesus demand anything from John’s disciples and if so, what should be expected of blog readers/commenters in their seeking to discern?

And what level of relationship is needed? For me, values of community and relationship are essential. Words that are not wrapped in body language are notoriously hard to discern. But how does that work online?

Questions, questions, questions. How does discernment operate in our online world?

Note: This post is a general reflection on the issue of discernment online and what it might mean for blogging. I am not trying to get at, or silence, or have a go at anyone who has commented.

Posted by steve at 09:23 AM


  1. Hi Steve,

    I am not sure we do real well on discerning in the physical world let alone the semi-virtual world. Emoticons like 🙂 are used to help make a point but are a cumbersome interaction tool.

    Maybe we need to go back to us using videos for each entry. Of course knowing the times I do some of my writing I am not sure that is a good idea. 🙂

    Jesus telling the disciples about seeing is more complex. At one level in asking this we want justification for our blogging. We want to know we are changing lives by our writing. Yet I have to go back to that which Jesus pointed to “What does a healed life look like?”. It is not just “before” missing limb, “after” all limbs present photos. It is relationships, values, spirituality, talk, and priorities to name a few areas. These are seen in how people live not in a snapshot of them in a single moment.

    I think ultimately the fact is God sent His Son and not a blog. A blog helps start conversation but does not necessarily help us see as Jesus expects but over a period of time we can build some sort of relationship to possibly see as Jesus meant.

    Keep it up

    Comment by David — December 5, 2007 @ 11:18 am

  2. Hi Steve,
    In Jesus’ response to his disciples, isn’t He claiming to be the messiah described in Isaiah 35:5,6?
    Is it a much different response for Him to say, “look at what the prophets said, I am fulfilling their very words, I am HE who they spoke of” vs. “look around and see all the people I’ve healed, healed lives mean I am from God”? It shows the importance of God’s Word in the practice of discerning.

    For me, I try to use discernment whether I’m on line, on the phone, in person, reading a christian book…all the time. I am searching and seeking and recognizing God…or not, and finding a lack of God.

    I think you blogging is great. When else would I ever get a chance to have a conversation with you, I’m here in the Western United States trying to get info on the emerging church. You’ve been a great help to me and so far I haven’t seen anything weird (except throwing plates at the cross…that just aint right..y’all ought to stop that) 🙂
    Just in this short time that I’ve been checking out your blog I’ve even prayed for you..and a few other bloggers. I would never have that opportunity if you thought everything had to be in person. So, thanks for the blog. 🙂


    Comment by Jill — December 6, 2007 @ 6:01 am

  3. Your writing is beautiful to see on the W.W.W. People view things from their own point of view many times, myself included. You help them think. No will ever agree on all points. But even Jesus disciples heard His message and each went out to serve Jesus after He went to be with God in different ways. So keep up the good work of opening eyes to see in different ways.

    I love this blog!



    Comment by Kim — December 9, 2007 @ 3:01 am

  4. Hi Steve

    Should I even say Hi Steve when I wouldn’t know you to say ‘Hi’ to in the street? Interesting questions. I have no answers, only more questions 🙂 Are online relationships more or less valid than those in person? Why is Jesus no longer here in the flesh, are there similarities in that we left with words? If Jesus passed me in the street I wouldn’t know him to say ‘Hi’. Do we discern more easily without the background on a person – does the background sometimes get in the way and tempt us to judge or make assumptions about a person’s ideas/motivations? etc?

    Comment by Jack — December 11, 2007 @ 7:27 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.